TEDxLansing-Ivy Hughes-The Bible Told Me So

Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney I don’t believe that a virgin
gave birth to a human being, I don’t believe that a kind god
would allow innocent people to suffer, and I certainly don’t believe
that my choices after death are heaven or hell. I do believe that abortion
is a right, God is a tyrant, and people often use religion
to justify hatred. But if I wanted to disprove a virgin birth
or find support for abortion, there’s absolutely no way
that I’d have gotten through Genesis, let alone the entire Bible. And I’m not a theologian. I’m a non-believer
who happened to pick up the Bible and read through it, cover to cover,
in the last six months of 2010. I wrote about my experience in my blog
“Thumpme” every Monday and Wednesday, and, admittedly, Thumpme was a little bit
of a dig at the Bible-thumpers who beat us heathens over the head
with damnation and Scripture. I didn’t read the Bible necessarily
to find faith, or to find God or religion. I did it for much more
superficial reasons. First of all, my sister and I
had had a tumultuous relationship for about five years. And she’s a year and a half
younger than me, and at the time, she was going to church. We grew up in a non-religious family. She’d gone to church as a kid
with some family friends, and she was getting back into the pew. My reading of the Bible also coincided with a massive Facebook fight
that we got in, over our status updates
and friend requests etiquette. (Laughter) So, that fight kind of molded
into a text fight, and then, I wrote her a letter
and we stopped talking to each other. So, instead of being mature,
I thought, “Hell! I don’t understand religion,
I don’t understand my sister. She’s going back to church,
so I’ll just read the Bible.” The second reason I read the Bible
is because I’m a writer, but I never get biblical references,
literary biblical references, which is embarrassing and annoying. The last reason I have read
the Bible is I really wanted to get a better understanding
of organized religion. When I was in college, I did the Buddhism
karma thing, as everybody does, but I had never gone to church
or read the Bible. And before Thumpme, I had had exactly
three experiences with religion. The first was in 6th grade. I dumped candy in the holy water
of my local church, turning it black and setting
a rather rebellious precedent for my religious beliefs. The second thing occurred
a couple of years ago. I had a run-in with some ghosts
in a cemetery in Ireland. And the third occurred,
I don’t know, in my early 20s. I drank too much before I went out
to a memorial service, and I fainted during the service
and I woke up like this, to a pudgy Midwestern man running
at me with coffee and a sugar cookie. So, even though my goals were superficial, my sister and I
got over our Facebook thing, we don’t follow each other on Twitter, and we’re very careful with Facebook
from here on out. I understand biblical references
a little bit more, but as for the religion and religious
tolerance thing, I’m totally lost still. But even though I didn’t find faith
in God or Jesus necessarily, I did find faith in myself and that definitely came
from my reading of the Bible. At the time that I started reading
the Bible, my life started falling apart, and if I hadn’t been reading the Bible, I don’t think that I would
have recognized what was happening or had the strength
to do anything about it. So, one of the things
that’s really cool about the Bible – The Bible is cool in a lot of ways,
it’s cool and interesting, but it’s flawed in that it was
written by human beings and we all have flawed memories. I steal people’s memories all the time. I don’t mean to,
but I take people’s stories and then I find myself regurgitating them,
with myself as a player in that story. So, I end up interpreting things
that are not, in fact, mine. But the Bible is one big,
interpretive dance, and as I said, it was written
by human beings a long time ago. And so, while a lot of the things
in the Bible have been proven to be true, a lot of the dates line up, there’s a lot of murky water. And I would like
to believe more in the Bible. For example, if someone really killed
somebody else with flaming foxtails, that is really cool; (Laughter) as is the idea of talking to someone
who is 200 to 400 years old, which also allegedly
happened in the Bible. But one of the prophets, Ezekiel,
realizes he’s a prophet and does all his writing about the Bible
after he hallucinates. So, you can imagine how his interpretation
of anything – food, water, God – would be different
than your eye, for example. But before I read the Bible,
I knew nothing about David, and he’s this really tall, handsome guy that all of mankind was supposed
to be modeled after. He is talked about in the book of Samuel. And as I was reading that book, there were a lot of things
that led me to this conclusion: I decided that he was homosexual, in large part because he spent
a lot of time with young, attractive men, and had a fetish with foreskin. But in this section of the Bible,
he ends up choosing – God has to choose between Saul and David,
and he chooses David. So, in my mind, that means
that he is OK with homosexuality, My readers disagreed with that, and you won’t find that interpretation
in a lot of religious circles, but again, it’s open to interpretation. So, before we decide what we’re
going to interpret from something, we have to figure out
what that something is, and when you’re reading
a text this big of rice paper, and you’re flying through it,
that’s often hard. Sometimes I had reasonable thoughts. Sometimes I strayed. During the begetting of the Old Testament, I got really bored and I started
counting how many days someone could have sex in a 30-day month,
if they went by God’s rules. I came up with nine. And so, while a lot of people
were looking and interpreting the dawn of civilization and history, I was looking at old sex. (Laughter) And a lot of times, when I was reading
the Bible it was really good for me, and a lot of times,
it made me feel almost suicidal. Some of that had to do
with what I was reading, some of it had to do with my attitude, because attitude has a major impact
on how we interpret our world. One day, I was pissed at the world
and I was biking to MSU. I got there and I had to read Numbers. I was hell-bent on not getting
anything from Numbers, nothing, but I opened it and the whole thing
was about this complaint department that God gave Moses for people who were
pissing and moaning about their lives, and they got all these punishments – 40 years of suffering,
thrown into the wilderness. So, these types of things
happened a lot, these coincidences, where something was happening in my life and then I’d open the Bible and it would
kind of coordinate, or correlate. And so, it’s almost like I would resist
the Bible and it would push back, but at the time that this was happening,
my stomach started to go, and I started spending
a lot of time in waiting rooms with old people who had
dysfunctional bowels and bladders, which was awesome, but what was happening
is that my body was interpreting some things that my mind
had been ignoring for a long time; namely, my heart. When I was 21, I fell in love. And I never wanted to get married, but when I was 23,
I married a really great person. We had a really liberal relationship,
not in the swinging sense, but in the “you do your thing,
I’ll do my thing.” We were creating our own definition
of what it meant to be married, and I was creating my definition
of what it meant to be a wife, but I always had these feelings
like something wasn’t right, and that I wanted to be free. And so, basically, I think if I hadn’t been reading the Bible
I wouldn’t have recognized these feelings and I would have continued
to write them away. Another thing that I find
really fascinating about the Bible is the role of influence. The Bible in society, and organized
religion in society, is the role of it. One of the major roles is as influencer. We’re all easily influenced, but we all kind of abide
by a lot of the social norms that are laid out in the Bible. Some of them are really good:
“Don’t steal,” “Don’t kill.” Some of them are confusing: “Don’t covet.”
I still don’t understand that one. And some of them are oppressive,
like: “Obey your husband,” for example. But we all abide by these
and we have a lot of different reasons, but one of them
is that we’re easily influenced. And in the Bible,
there’s this guy named Hosea, and I thought he was a total wimp,
because his wife is cheating on him and God told him to stay with his wife
anyways, and he does it. So talk about influence. But in my typical fashion,
when I was finished criticizing him, I started thinking
about my life, my marriage, and the things that I had allowed
to influence the decisions that I made in both of those realms. And I think in Western society
we’re taught to think freely, but not freely enough
to actually move towards deviation. So, I don’t know if it was that I was
really young when I got married, if I didn’t know who I was,
if I was easily influenced, if I was madly in love, or if it was a combination
of all of those things, but I always ignored
this voice inside of me that this just wasn’t something for me, that it wasn’t something
that was just right for me. So, for about five years,
I tried to fit into that marriage role, I tried to make it work for myself,
and I continued to suppress that, but then, along came Job, fear, and faith. I can’t remember why,
and I never really got the point; that means I missed the whole
freaking point of the story of Job, but Job is this guy and God
just kind of like craps all over and He takes away his family. He’s just destitute,
his life is just awful. And at one point in the Bible, Job kind of likens the human condition
to one of a life of slavery. He talks about us being slaves
always looking for shade. So, we go through the motion,
we’re zombies, we don’t pay any attention
to what’s going on in our life, we don’t have a purpose. Eventually, Job goes back to God,
which just like broke my heart because I kind of had a crush on Job. He was like this outlier
and he, you know, bucks the system, and then he goes back to God. But the cool thing about that story
is it’s a story of faith, and you either have faith or you don’t, and that’s when that really resonated
for me in my Bible reading. So, after reading the story of Job, and had already gone
through a major portion of the Bible, I started really thinking about the lack
of faith that I had had in myself, and I kind of came
to a crossroads and I thought, “I can either kind of halt my life and put
all of my efforts into this marriage – ” that I thought was really good
and so did everybody else – “Or I can walk away
from an eight-year relationship, an extended family I love,
a life that I’m comfortable with, and throw my faith in myself
and actually listen to this voice that has been talking to me – ” not in a hallucinogenic way,
but has been talking to me for years – “And just go out on my own.” So, a couple of months
after I started reading the Bible, my husband and I separated. In December of 2010,
I moved back to Colorado, and I moved in with my parents. And I was set to read Revelations
on Christmas day of 2010. That was my last entry,
that’s the end of the Bible. And I decided not to read it, which really didn’t sit well
with a lot of my readers, because I wasn’t following through
on my commitment to read the entire Bible, but I made that decision because
I had finally found faith in myself, and I think when you have
faith in something, be it yourself, the Bible, your job, you trust it, and therefore,
when you trust something, you don’t need to know what the ending is. So, I decided that I wasn’t ready
to know what the ending was because I was kind of opening up my life
to whatever endings are going to come. That doesn’t mean
that I don’t worry about my future. I live in Colorado. So, I live in a state
where I don’t have any contacts, and not a whole lot of friends;
I live with my parents. I’m traveling around the world,
but I don’t really know why. I don’t have a sense of place, and my professional life
is kind of in a holding pattern. Do I know what I’m going to do
with my life? No, I don’t. I don’t know what my purpose in life is, but I have confidence
that I will figure that out. One of the greatest things
about life and the Bible is that it’s all open to interpretation. You just have to figure out how
you want to interpret it for yourself. So, in reading the Bible,
I found faith in myself, and I think that a lot of times
when people read the Bible they’ll regurgitate these really profound
quotes that other people have written, to make themselves sound good. So, I’m going to say this quote
from some chunk of the Bible that I can’t remember,
that seems to be fitting for me. “Go in through the narrow gate because the gate to hell is wide
and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it, but the gate to life is narrow
and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.” So, since I read the Bible, I guess that I am allowed
to say thank you and God bless. (Laughter) (Applause)

11 thoughts on “TEDxLansing-Ivy Hughes-The Bible Told Me So”

  1. She has the spirit off the deceiver!' Satan. she doesn't have any Idea of what she's talking about. she makes no sense what so ever. in her small little mind & head, she has created such a lying and Decieveful  comments about the Bible' which is Truly the Word of God. the Devil has taking her for a ride, in which she may never returned…

  2. Poor lady, she was and is lost, all she got was a reading of a book that she found interesting and some of it kind of related but not really, so she is the be all and end all of her own self.

  3. Theists think they have god all figured out.  They think life, death, and everything in between is somehow absolute because they read it in an ancient mythical bible or Quran.  Let's stay with the Christian mythology.  This book is the most dangerous book on earth written by ignorant, bronze age, bigoted men.  The mythical god of this bible kills or has someone kill millions of people.  The devil, 10, yes 10.  Who is evil?  Who would worship a god that would send people to hell for simply not believing in him?  No matter how good you are, how many good deeds you do in this life you have to believe.  And no matter how bad you are and how many horrible things you do in this life, you get to go to heaven if you only believe.  This is twisted thinking.  And theists don't realize how many mythical gods preceded Jesus, many with the exact, same story of a virgin birth, walking on water, healing the sick, died and arose from the dead.  Man made god in his own image.  If there were a god, where the hell is he (always a he ya know).  He supposedly appeared to a handful of men, carefully selected to let everyone else know of his plans.  WTF.  Let us all in on your presence you almighty peace of non-existent ghost.  If you just read the bible with an open mind you will realize this is a fantasy, made up thousands of years ago to keep people under control. So many unrealistic claims that it's really silly.  A virgin birth, rising from the dead, burning bush, Noah's arc and the great flood.  Any extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence.  Religion does not get a pass on this.  Religion makes promises that it cannot fulfill and cannot show you was ever fulfilled.  Anyway, read your bible.  The book where god not only condones but has instructions for slavery, has a fetish for foreskins (gross), condones rape, stoning of unruly children, killing your neighbor who works on the Sabbath, and many more.  Not a book for moral guidance.  Christian's  are just one god away from being an atheist.  You can do it. Join reality and don't worship a myth.

  4. The difference is when atheists read the bible, they read the good bits AND the bad bits. We don't cherry pick, but christians cherry pick, whether they are a Liberal christian or a christian fundamentalist.

  5. When Judah began to gain real power in the 7th/6th century BCE, the priests said "Let's write a self-serving history of our nation." And they did. The Tower; the Flood; Israel in Egypt; the Exodus; the Wanderings; the Conquest; the United Monarchy; all known to be false now. Also, there was no "Nazareth" in Jesus' time. Nor can we find other cities mentioned in the New Testament. It's all myth and legend.

  6. You should read the most honest Bible, the King James Bible. Even militant atheist Dawkins said if you don't know the King James Bible, you don't know English.

    Poor girl. You came across the most amazing Messianic predictions like the year of his crucifixion from more than 600 years previous. You saw the prophetic vision of prophet Nahum, who saw "chariots" in the "day of his preparation" (referring to the lead-up to the Second Coming), and you missed the place names that were ridiculed in times past

    In days of more sanity, guys became best buddies without the perverted thinking about Jonathan and David. Soldiers coming back from a battle are the best of comrades, and say "I love you man!" to a wounded fellow fighter, without sexual innuendo.

    Try Acts 8 again and find a loving gentle soul.

    Job's sin was self-righteousness until he repented.

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